Liberal Democrat motion: York opposes Voter ID requirements

A proposed motion from York opposing Voter ID requirements.

Proposed by: Cllr Andrew Hollyer

This council notes that:

  • Voters will be required to show an approved form of photographic identification at polling stations from May next year, under measures in the Government’s Elections Act 2022. The secondary legislation is yet however to be finalised and implemented.
  • The total cost of the ID roll-out overall could cost £180m over a decade, according to Government’s figures.
  • According to the Electoral Reform Society, the accepted forms of photographic identification would disadvantage younger people.
  • In September the Electoral Commission issued a stark warning to the Government over their “fundamental concerns” and “alarm” over these plans – which it said could not “be delivered in a way which is fully secure, accessible and workable” in time for the local elections in May.
  • There were only four convictions resulting from the allegations of in-person voter fraud during the 2019 General Election.
  • Electoral Commission research has found that about 7.5% of the electorate do not have access to any form of photo ID.
  • Over 1,100 people were denied a vote in local government elections during the 2018 and 2019 Voter ID pilots.
  • After the May 2018 Voter ID pilots, the Electoral Reform Society concluded that the introduction of Voter ID is “a sledge hammer to crack a nut”.
  • Insufficient information regarding the introduction of the new voter ID policy has been shared with local councils ahead of the May 2023 election.
  • There is expected to be a substantial additional strain on staff and resources preparing for the introduction of these changes. Including the issuing of local electoral identity documents, communication of the new rules and the impact of training, retaining and recruiting election day staff who will have extra responsibilities at polling stations.

This Council believes that:

  • The introduction of mandatory Voter ID will undermine the democratic process and create barriers to exercising the right to vote, disproportionately affecting ethnic minority, low income, homeless, LGBT+, elderly, disabled and young people.
  • The Government should be trying to increase engagement in democracy, not hinder it. The Government should be urgently acting to increase voter registration and turnout.

Council therefore resolves to:

  • Request the Chief Operating Officer writes to the Cabinet Office to express the Council’s serious concern as to the introduction of mandatory Voter ID in any UK elections.
  • Request a report is brought to a public meeting outlining the plans and update on preparations to introduce mandatory voter ID for the May 2023 local election in York.